Marathons – For a social cause or caused by social media?
For the corporate world of sponsors and advertising agencies, the marathons offer them an opportunity to reach out to the masses.
In this generation of citizens and social media, where people follow trends as quickly as night follows the day, one emerging trend that has recently taken to cities is that of running Marathons. The number of people taking part in marathons has grown considerably in the metro cities of Kolkata, Bombay and Delhi. With friends convincing their friends, and family members and clubs taking part in marathons collectively, the running crowd has gradually swelled. The fitness awareness is rising among st people recently. The footfall of the Fit Expo 2017 Marathon which happened in Kolkata proved how large scale this trend has become of late.
A Marathon is a long race (42km) that runners train for and take part in. Recently the Marathons have been modified into events that not only promote fitness among citizens but also help to gather funds for the underprivileged and for charity or any other social cause. People can now take part in half marathons (21km) and even run marathons for smaller distances (10km or 5km marathons). Leading companies like Tata Steel and Airtel have been organising such marathon events.
Airtel, Bank of Baroda and Yes Bank, recently organised The Airtel – Run for Education that invited a large number of participants from all age groups in Kolkata. The funds collected in these marathon events are later used for the purpose of building classrooms for underprivileged children. Similarly, the Tata Steel has been organizing marathons every year with its focus on community development and promoting social responsibility.
People enthusiastically take part in such marathons for individual and public welfare. Runners come from all age groups – ranging from college students, elderly citizens to stay at home moms. A large part of this community is filled with new adults. These runners go along with the fad, spend a bit of money, and subsequently forget about the cause that led them to take part in the first place. Shabad, a fitness enthusiast says, “I personally participate in marathons for a sense of achievement which I feel after completing it.”
There are some runners who take part for their passion for running and winning races. Savar Hirjee, a B.Com graduate from St. Xavier’s College is a passionate runner. But, often he is able to take part only in races for which the entry fee is reasonable. “I would run for marathons and pay charity separately. If the amount of fee for running the marathon is feasible, I run the marathon otherwise I don’t.” says Savar. People, by and large are realising the importance of it and are not shying away from spending money towards this. The entry fee for marathons nowadays is around ₹1200 – ₹1500 approximately. Runners also run small races of 10 and less than kilometer by paying around ₹900. The regular runners, according to a study conducted by a Chennai-based software solutions provider titled Decoding Marathons in India found that most of the marathon runners comprise of elderly citizens and those in the middle-aged group. Social media plays a major role in popularising the concept of marathons among teenagers and young adults.
“The runners go along with the fad, spend a bit of money, and subsequently forget about the cause that led them to take part in the marathon in the first place”
The prowess of social media and its vast and incalculable hold of power over the younger generation make it almost predictable. More and more people are attending the marathons as they can upload it on their social media profiles for popularity. What they don’t realise is the business side of marathons which promotes commercialism and capitalism that benefits the corporate world of sponsors and advertising agencies. For them, this new platform provides them with a great opportunity to reach out to the masses.
The craze of Marathons too owes to the new media for making it popular among the youth. But, along with power comes responsibility. Participants in a cause should also be aware of the benefits/harms of their cause and not just go along with the mass culture.